Sunday, March 04, 2007

London 22-25 February: Post 6 - Culture

Between visits, walks, celebrity spotting (well the kind that we're interested in), and eating, we also found time for some more serious culture. We had a great time in the Citizens and Kings exhibition at the Royal Academy. Covering the topic of 'Portraits in the Age of Revolution, 1760—1830', it's a curious hotchpotch of subjects ranging from cultural and scientific innovators from the age of enlightenment, to political figures from the European and American upheavals of the same period. But don't think I mean that as a criticism; rather, it illustrates the dynamic shifts this period saw both in terms of the figures depicted and the way they are depicted. Artists as diverse as David and Goya, Gainsborough, Vigee Lebrun and Ingres sit side by side with other significant if now less well-known artists such as Mengs and Singleton Copley. A fascinating exhibition for anyone interested in the age of Enlightenment and/or the art of that time.

We also took the opportunity to sneak in a quick bit of theatre. We've long been interested in the talent of Lee Evans, not least for his work in one of our favourite films, Funny Bones. Pinter's The Dumb Waiter is on for a short run and has garnered excellent reviews (I'd spotted the star reviews, though I hadn't read the content as I like to keep myself unspoilered just in case). Knowing our interest I thought it was worth a shot at trying to get a ticket. The matinee suited us fine, so we settled in for the hour long play with Evans and Jason Isaacs taking the stage.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure what to expect but in the end I was glad I had not read the reviews. It would be hard to give any links that would not reveal what I did not know in advance since the fact is well-publicised in synopses and reviews, but my not knowing ahead of it becoming clear in the dialogue that the two characters are hit-men really added to the frisson of the performance. And, perhaps against our expectations, it was ultimately very funny. I know that Pinter's comedic elements have drawn comment, but it really had a vivid stream of comedy running through it: not only due to Evans' distinctive performative style but also the way that Isaacs' calm rationalism could play off it for comedic benefit.

It was a very fine and disconcerting play, and well worth catching in its short run.

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